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Joaquin Phoenix's painful interview with David Letterman on Wednesday night took the pressure off SI covergirl Bar Refaeli.
AP


SI.com's Arash Markazi is spending the week reporting on this year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit launch. The issue hit newsstands on Feb. 10.

NEW YORK -- Bar Refaeli doesn't know Joaquin Phoenix, but in a span of a few minutes on Wednesday night, the recently "retired" actor became the model's best friend.

As Refaeli sat in her dressing room at the Ed Sullivan Theatre before making an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, she was stressing about her upcoming interview, worried about everything from her dress to the obligatory questions about her boyfriend, Leonardo DiCaprio.

While she waited for her turn as the second guest on the show, Phoenix turned in perhaps the oddest, most cringe-inducing two segments Letterman has conducted on the show since his infamous Farrah Fawcett interview nearly 12 years ago.

Phoenix, wearing a pair of dark shades and a Grizzly Adams beard, seemed dazed and confused as he answered Letterman's questions with silence or short responses, eliciting awkward laughter from the crowd and Letterman.

When Letterman asked him if he had any fun stories from the filming of his movie Two Lovers, Phoenix was silent before saying, "I'm sure something fun happened." When he was asked to set up a clip of the film, he was again silent before saying he hadn't seen the movie. Throughout the interview he would look awkwardly at the crowd and the band, asking what their problem was and what they were on as they laughed to fill in the silence. When he said he would like to come back and perform hip-hop, his new career venture, Letterman almost rolled his eyes and said, "We'll certainly keep you in the Rolodex."

The interview almost came to a head when Phoenix became upset with Letterman's jokes and Letterman suggested he go to Phoenix's home and chew gum at his house causing Phoenix to take out his gum and stick it under the desk eliciting a stare and a "calm down" from Letterman. The agitated host finally ended the painful interview by saying, "Joaquin, I wish you could have been here tonight. ... I owe an apology to Farrah Fawcett."

With an act like that to follow, Refaeli couldn't fail even when she refused to talk about her relationship with DiCaprio. When Letterman pressed her about how the two met, she said, "You can ask, but I don't have to answer." Without skipping a beat Letterman's said, "That's something we learned from our first guest."

After the interview was over, Refaeli headed to a party before boarding an airplane covered with her picture, which was revealed earlier in the day at LaGuardia Airport in New York. Before boarding a plane for Las Vegas with the 18 other SI Swimsuit models for another party, Refaeli still couldn't believe what was just happened.

"I did the Letterman show!" she said, still excited. "I'm still nervous.  I can't believe it. That's big. I did good right?"

Yes Bar, certainly better than Phoenix.

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